We ask to meet and interview NHS staff to help us fully understand the details of the patient safety incident we’re investigating and help establish the facts. This is a key part of our information collection.
We may need to interview you if you were involved in providing care, or witnessed anything that could be relevant to the investigation. This applies to both clinical and non-clinical staff. Staff are obliged, as part of their professional code of conduct, to participate in our investigations.
If you’re on leave, we can arrange a convenient date to interview you on your return. In the case of long-term absence, we may ask your trust to arrange an occupational health review to assess if you are well enough to be interviewed.
Preparing for the interview
One of our maternity investigators will contact you to arrange the meeting.
Staff meetings usually last around 1-1.5 hours, but please allow up to 2 hours. They can be held via video call or in person. There will be two members of our investigation team present.
We understand that revisiting events can be difficult and you’re welcome to bring a work colleague with you for support. This must be someone who is bound by confidentiality agreements within your trust and who you are happy to talk freely in front of. It cannot be a member of your family or a friend. They cannot speak on your behalf or contribute to the interview.
We may have a copy of the patient’s notes or other information like photographs, video, or local operational guidance at our meeting for you to look at. Any information is used to ensure we obtain the best recollection and understanding of an event. However, you may find it helpful to make some notes before our meeting, to help remember the details of what happened.
If you’ve got any questions before the meeting, please contact your investigator.
The interview is mainly based on open questions. There may also be some direct questions where we explore how systems and processes work. We’ll ask you to share your recollection of events with us. We’ll also ask for insight into how your trust works.
We do not try to find or place blame on individuals. The aim of our investigations is to describe what happened and make safety recommendations to prevent similar events from happening again in the future.
Interviews with NHS staff are treated as confidential but may be disclosed in certain judicial or legal circumstances.
We understand that staff can feel worried about how their information is used. Our investigators can explain about our remit to prevent disclosure of your information and talk through any concerns you have about this process.
We make a record of our meeting, preferably audio.
This allows us to concentrate on what you are saying, rather than taking detailed notes. The recording is uploaded to our secure database alongside other evidence gathered during the investigation.
We recognise that staff may be anxious about having their discussions recorded. We understand that regional officers of the Royal College of Midwives advise local stewards that audio recording of interviews is preferable. The medical defence unions (Medical Protection Society, Medical Defence Union and Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland) also recommend audio recording for interviews.
You can request a copy of the recording after your interview.
What happens next
Investigators do not feedback to staff during the interview or the investigation.
We aim to get all the information we need in one interview. However, we may need to interview you again if:
- the progressing investigation raises further questions
- we need clarity over a particular issue.
- you remember something after the interview that you think is important (we may be able to do this over the phone or by email).
Learning identified during the investigation is shared with your trust’s leadership team for maternity services. It’s also discussed at quarterly meetings between the Maternity and Newborn Safety Investigations (MNSI) programme and the trust, to support action plans and rapid improvement.
Once the investigation report is produced it’s available for staff to read. You may need to ask for a copy of the report from your risk team or head of midwifery.
We do not name individuals in our report, or give the grade of an individual, unless it’s relevant to understanding the circumstances of the event. We believe that through our investigative approach we reduce the likelihood of unfounded concerns being raised about individuals, by explaining the circumstances of the patient safety incident and the role of individuals in the process.
We hope that your trust will hold a debrief session for all staff.
Help and support
Your wellbeing is important to us.
We understand support will be available from your trust. If you feel you would like additional help or support, please speak to our investigation team or have a look at our help and support for NHS staff page.
NHS trust staff who are interviewed as part of our investigations are given the contact details of their investigators. They’re available 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday throughout the investigation, but please note investigators do not feedback to staff during the investigation.